COVID-19 cases at MCI-Norfolk rise to 172


Nov 10, 2020
CommonWealth Magazine
By Sarah Betancourt

CONGRESSWOMAN AYANNA Pressley and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins are urging Gov. Charlie Baker and state correction officials to release inmates at state prisons amid an outbreak of COVID-19 at MCI-Norfolk that has risen to 172 cases over the last two weeks.

Pressley and Rollins say Baker with “the stroke of a pen” could reduce the overall prison population, which would allow the remaining inmates to socially distance and avoid contracting the disease.

“As governor, you hold the necessary clemency and emergency powers to release individuals back to their families and loved ones. The ongoing pandemic has provided sufficient reason to exercise this authority,” the two women said in a letter to Baker.

At a State House press conference, Baker did not reply directly to the letter but lauded the DOC’s efforts to contain the virus during the pandemic. He noted that some prisoners had been released via parole and others to early release. This is when the court rules that some prisoners were eligible for release and required weekly reporting on infection rates and testing at the prison facilities. Most of the people who have been released are detained pre-trial in county corrections, or have parole or probation violations. The releases have not extended to sentenced prisoners.“When they had an outbreak at Norfolk, they [DOC] moved aggressively to test everyone who is an inmate at the facility and everyone who worked at the facility, and if you weren’t willing to get tested, then you weren’t going to go back to the facility,” said Baker of the latest spike. “They’ve done a good job with this stuff.”

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